British diplomat's daughter held in India over drugs

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The Independent Online

A senior British diplomat's teenage daughter and an American friend, the son of the US naval attaché, were arrested by police in India for alleged possession of 380 grams (13.5 ounces) of cannabis.

A senior British diplomat's teenage daughter and an American friend, the son of the US naval attaché, were arrested by police in India for alleged possession of 380 grams (13.5 ounces) of cannabis.

But officers released the couple without charge as they both have immunity as the dependents of diplomats.

Had it not been for their diplomatic status they would have been held without bail and faced a mandatory prison term of 10 years if convicted under India's draconian drugs laws.

Last night the British High Commission in Delhi said it would await the outcome of the Indian police investigation before deciding what steps to take.

Kate Reid, 19, daughter of Peter Reid - a first secretary in the Department for International Development agency attached to the British High Commission - was held with her friend on Wednesday.

The Foreign Office said Ms Reid had been released but had been asked by Indian police to remain available for further questioning. "She is automatically entitled to diplomatic immunity. The Indian police could seek a waiver but they have not done that, they are not pressing charges but are continuing their inquiries."

Officers became suspicious of Andrew Grussendorf, 19, a US college student who had been visiting his parents, Sue and Captain Mark Grussendorf. They had been due to leave for home yesterday at the end of their tour of duty in Delhi.

The couple had been visiting the Paharganj area of Delhi, a favourite haunt of backpackers, when they were arrested.

Mr Grussendorf asked the owner of a shoe shop to make an incision in a thick bathroom slipper. The shopkeeper became suspicious and called the police. When the American returnedpolice pounced and allegedly discovered 380g of cannabis hidden in his bag.

Ms Reid had been watching the drama unfold from the Hare Ram café, near by. She is said to have approached theofficers to attempt to defuse the situation, explaining that they had bought the drugs in Manali, Himachel Pradesh - a notorious source of cannabis - but it was for their own consumption only.

"It didn't sound credible," said a police source. "In fact, it sounded completely incredible." The couple were taken to the police station where they revealed their identity as the son and daughter of high-ranking diplomats. Police also learnt that Mr Grussendorf had been due to go back to the US yesterday, casting further suspicion on the story. Ms Reid, who does not work and lives with her parents, has been in Delhi for at least a year.

Yesterday, the police were giving little away about the incident because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the matter. But one senior officer said that no charges could be brought because of their diplomatic status.

British High Commission sources said the police investigation would be allowed to take its course. Ms Reid could only be prosecuted in the unlikely event that the police request that her diplomatic immunity be waived, and permission is granted.

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